Cloud Production: Setting the Standard for Live Sport

By Ophir Zardok, Director, Sports Solutions and Business Strategy, LiveU

Cloud production has been a hot topic since its use accelerated during the pandemic. The sports industry at large has increasingly turned to cloud production workflows and technologies to produce and distribute live content. At LiveU, we view cloud production as incorporating five stages, facilitating an end-to-end workflow:

1. video creation (capturing the content)

2. connecting from the field to your cloud production platform

3. producing your content on your cloud production platform

4. managing your live production

5. sharing your content over IP to your chosen endpoints (e.g. broadcasters or social media platforms).

Perhaps on account of its rapid success and adoption, there are many misconceptions around the benefits and limitations of cloud production workflows from a live sports perspective. In this article, I share some recent experiences in order to challenge some common misconceptions.

Sky Sports turns to netball to build their cloud capabilities

Sky Sports were amongst the front runners in adopting and building the capabilities to manage cloud production workflows to deliver high quality live sports broadcasts. They used the sport of netball as a platform to accelerate their cloud production capabilities during the pandemic, opting to create live multi-camera cloud-based productions using public internet to distribute feeds over IP. Internet contribution was managed through LiveU straight to the cloud using hybrid 5G / internet connectivity to ensure reliable distribution of the live feed.

Scaling beach volleyball content in the cloud

Volleyball World, a partnership between the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and CVC Capital Partners, switched to a cloud production workflow to increase the live video content they produced around the Beach Volleyball Pro Tour 2022. The goal was to create more value for broadcast partners and drive fan engagement across their own digital platforms and to achieve this they needed a more flexible and cost-efficient system compared to traditional satellite distribution.

Going into the project, Volleyball World had some concerns. These included a reliance on public internet, particularly around the “first mile” of delivery over the internet from camera to their cloud production platform. Volleyball World operates in facilities ranging from established venues like Roland Garros in Paris to remote beach locations in the Maldives and, in many locations, they have a dependency upon potentially unstable public WiFi networks. This limitation was overcome using cellular bonding solutions. Two independent lines were established to distribute the feed to their cloud production platform – one main configuration and one back-up.

The Volleyball World team were also concerned about their ability to onboard broadcast partners into a new way of working with live content delivered over IP. This was solved by taking a more consultative approach with broadcasters and ultimately IP delivery ensured that Volleyball World could, for the first time, track which broadcast partners were accessing the feeds and when.

The multiple transcoding steps involved in the new workflow led to concerns being raised around the potential reduction in image quality as well as increased latency. The latter’s impact on, amongst other things, the requirement for low latency betting streams would be an issue for some of Volleyball World’s partners. In the end, broadcast partner feedback was excellent in terms of image quality and in some cases, quality was considered better than with satellite delivery. Feeds were generally also turned around faster than they were before, especially when compared with intercontinental distribution of satellite feeds under the previous workflow.

The results of the switch to a cloud production workflow speak for themselves. Volleyball World increased production volume ten-fold and costs were estimated to be cut by a seventh, compared to the cost of distributing the equivalent content via satellite. They also enjoyed increased flexibility to sell media rights to broadcasters up until the day before the event and create new content assets for broadcasters.

Delivering a sustainable future for live sports broadcasting

One of the most significant benefits that the switch to a cloud production workflow brought to Volleyball World was a general reduction in their carbon footprint resulting from reduced power consumption and fewer people traveling on-site (no SNG and no on-site commentary).

Moving forward, Volleyball World is planning to create a dedicated remote master control room to edit their live productions. This will enable them to improve consistency by using the same production team for all productions while reducing costs and environmental impact.

The environmental benefits of cloud production are increasingly being understood and measured. In a recent white paper, cloud video editing experts and LiveU technology partner, Blackbird, demonstrated that a cloud native video editing solution can save up to 91% carbon emissions compared to a traditional workflow.

Blending the traditional with the new

While IP distribution is on the rise, satellite distribution still remains critical to many broadcasters across the world. Many of our sports clients ask us for hybrid satellite / IP distribution solutions which led LiveU to partner with the leader in global content connectivity solution, SES.

We are collaborating to convert satellite feeds to IP so that feeds can be distributed via cloud production platforms and ingested by, for example, a sports OTT platform. This also works in reverse where a broadcaster does not have the capabilities to receive a feed that is distributed via IP. For example, Oranda Singapore recently deployed the SES and LiveU joint solution to distribute live broadcasts of sports climbing in Korea to viewers across EMEA, Americas and Asia.

Reach for the sky by taking your production to the cloud

While many of the most advanced cloud production use cases in sport have been focused on so-called second or third tier sports, there is undoubtedly a broader shift happening across the industry. Advances in technology, including the roll-out of 5G cellular networks, will further accelerate the adoption of the cloud as the default for live sports production.

The flexibility of the cloud presents all manner of opportunities to integrate added value elements that can enhance the experience and increase fan engagement. The scalability, cost effectiveness and environmental benefits speak to a bright future for cloud production workflows as the driver of a new era of live sports broadcasting.

LiveU is shaping the future of live video, powering video production workflows and cloud services for news, sports, and other verticals by offering the highest quality, reliable and cost-effective end-to-end solutions for all types of live production. For more information, visit LiveU’s website or follow the company on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Post-Podium Stories – Talent Pathway iD

Back in May, Talent Pathway iD scooped the Best Athlete Coaching and Performance Technology trophy at The Sports Technology Awards and they are the latest organization to feature in our Post Podium Stories series.

Finding, recruiting, and retaining sporting talent is a global challenge; Talent Pathway iD’s platform allows clubs to do all three efficiently by collecting data across multiple disciplines, ranking those by importance to create a blueprint for talent development.

During the judging process for The 2022 Sport Technology Awards, the platform was considered to have distinguished itself from general athlete monitoring tools by underpinning the AI with deep experience in athlete pathway science.

Six months on from that success, Robin McCammon, Chairman, TPiD, spoke to The STA Group to give his view on the latest market dynamics and provide some advice for both companies and individuals in the sector.

What has changed for your business in the last six months?

6 months is a long time in the start-up world and what a whirlwind it still is! The success at the STA Awards is testament to the amazing work the team has done to develop and roll out a technology system that can be applied across a multitude of high-performance environments. We’ve engaged with a number of incredible organisations working on bespoke research to support wide ranging areas of interest including pathway, injury risk assessment, S&C and health & wellbeing; an incredibly exciting time for us. We have spent time further evolving our technology for application with existing partners and are advancing new projects in different spaces beyond traditional sports. In short, we are well into Phase 2 for TPiD regarding evolution and growth trajectory.

What are the biggest changes happening in your part of the sports sector?

I personally feel over the past few years the key change to the high-performance space is a wider acceptance of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence as acceptable to generating a clearer, more exact understanding of data. Whilst data has been collected and recorded for many years there is an understanding more must be done to assess and analyse the key elements of success or high performance to shape strategy and thinking across the spectrum. I see this as a generational shift whereby new technologies and methods to understand success must be (and are being) embraced to stay ahead of the game…it really isn’t about the quantity of data, rather the quality and understanding of the data that shall determine future success.

What the best piece of advice you’ve been given about working in sports / sports technology (personal or professional)?

On a personal level I live by the mantra of listening more than I speak…you never learn anything new by doing the talking…on a professional level it has always been important to me to remember that failure is the only true way to learn…everyone makes mistakes so don’t be afraid to fail fast and move on, as long as you are prepared to learn from the failure.

What the best piece of advice you’d pass on to a client or start-up in your world?

I would urge anyone, whether client or partner, start-up or multinational to ensure you’re able to trust one another, take a risk and learn together. The world is moving at such pace, particularly in the high-performance space, that the reliance on tried and tested methods of success represents only a small fraction of how you can affect positive success in the future. Whilst gut feel, experience and understanding of your respective space are important to formulate a strategy, embracing out of the box, technological advances, as well as innovative ideas and methods are key to shaping the future.

Don’t miss the chance to enter The 2023 Sports Technology Awards – the leading international celebration of tech-led innovation in sport – and be join Talent Pathway iD as a winner. With over 50 industry experts, 22 categories and an independent judging system, an entry can see your brand one step closer to recognition as one of the best in world sport. Entries close on December 15, find out more here:

Post-Podium Stories – OnePlan

Six months on from The 2022 Sport Technology Awards we are revisiting our winners to gage their thoughts on the latest market dynamics.

The latest to feature in our ‘Post-Podium Stories’ is OnePlan, winners of the Best Technology for Venues and Operations for its Venue Twin solution that brings sports venues into the metaverse.

Venue Twin allows Marketing teams, and their stakeholders, to access their venue 24/7 to plan operations as well as sell hospitality, advertising and tickets – unlocking new operational and commercial opportunities for venues worldwide. Here, Paul Foster, OnePlan CEO, gives us his update six months after collecting this coveted award. 

What has changed for your business in the last six months?

For us, the biggest change has been unprecedented growth. In the past 6 months, we’ve had a 24% increase in staff. We’ve also hit the milestone of over 15,000 events planned in OnePlan – soon to be 20,000.

What are the biggest changes happening in your part of the sports sector?

The most significant change is the adoption of technology in every aspect of sports – the ‘digital first’ approach which includes ticketing, betting, point of sale, and fan engagement have all gone through a major transformation in a short space of time. The next major change we’ll see soon is the transition from web2 to web3. This is still in the early stages as companies and brands figure out what works for their fanbase.    

What the best piece of advice you’ve been given about working in sports / sports technology (personal or professional)?

Things move fast in technology, but what’s most important to focus on is genuine use cases and where the technology creates a real benefit to the end users. The best way to achieve this benefit is by actually speaking to potential users to understand their needs better.

What the best piece of advice you’d pass on to a client or start-up in your world?

The best advice I’d pass on is understanding your market and customers. While building technology is a huge hurdle, adoption of that technology solution is even more important and an even bigger accomplishment. 

To join OnePlan as a Sports Technology Awards winner, make sure you enter the 2023 edition of the leading international celebration of tech-led innovation in sport. With over 50 industry experts, 22 categories and an independent judging system, an entry can see your brand one step closer to recognition as one of the best in world sport. Be sure to enter before the December 15 deadline, find out more here:

Post-Podium Stories – TeraVolt

Time for another of our Post-Podium Stories with TeraVolt, the German digital media services agency, the latest to feature.

TeraVolt won the App of the Year category at this year’s The Sports Technology Awards for their work with the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL).

The submission was based on TeraVolt’s development of TVXRAY – an AI-based SaaS solution facilitating easy OTT integration and offers a highly personalized sports viewing experience – a tool that is now the foundation of the Bundesliga Interactive Feed. Judges praised the attention to detail in the entry, especially for personalisation and understanding of the target market.

Here, TeraVolt Founder and CPO, Tobias Fröhlich, gives us his thoughts on the latest market dynamics.

What has changed for your business in the last six months? 
As a growing start-up, growth in itself is of course the goal and that then gives confirmation. Winning an award reinforces this growth and, most importantly, puts much more quality into the confirmation. Industry experts have selected this one from hundreds of products. GREAT! Our employees are more motivated, more satisfied and you can also find awards in the sales. 

What are the biggest changes happening in your part of the sports sector?
Social media is threatening the TV industry, because younger audiences stop watching TV. But there only a few big (mostly) US companies, so the buyer side to media rights will shrink in the future. Monetization as it used to be, will only be possible, if engagement and personalization will be part of the TV industry. TV needs to become more TIKTOK than trying to safe old broadcast.

What the best piece of advice you’ve been given about working in sports / sports technology (personal or professional)?
1) Don´t talk deals, close deals (as told by a player´s agent)

2) In doubt leave it out (as told by a 20 years more experienced MTV manager)

3) Cross the bridge, when the bridge is there!

What the best piece of advice you’d pass on to a client or start-up in your world?
If you had one shot or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?

Famous lyrics from Eminem, of course!
The transformation is now. It´s a pleasure to work in these times, to shape products and propositions that never had been there at all…Enjoy it! Have fun!

To join TeraVolt as a Sports Technology Awards winner, make sure you enter the 2023 edition of the leading international celebration of tech-led innovation in sport. With over 50 industry experts, 22 categories and a judging system that is both independent and rigorous, an entry can see your brand one step closer to recognition as one of the best in world sport. Find out more here:

Post-Podium Stories – NBA

Six months on from The 2022 Sport Technology Awards we are revisiting our winners to hear their thoughts on the latest market dynamics.

The latest to feature in our ‘Post-Podium Stories’ is the National Basketball Association (NBA), winners of the Capgemini Innovation of the Year category for the organization’s Referee Engagement and Performance System.

The Referee Engagement and Performance System uses advanced technology to enhance the performance of referees in the NBA. This is the first time that officiating used an advanced technology-based system to directly instruct, improve, and impact referee performance to help maintain league expectations. Here, Matthew Futterman, Director of Referee Operations at NBA, gives us his update six months after collecting this coveted award.

What has changed for your business in the last six months?

One of the biggest changes in NBA Referee Operations in the last six months has been the implementation and training of new rules and initiatives heading into the 2022-23 NBA season. This summer, the NBA Board of Governors approved a change to the playing rules that will impose a heightened penalty when a defensive player commits a “transition take foul,” which is an intentional foul committed by a defender to deprive the offensive team of a fast-break opportunity. With this rule change, we must ensure our NBA officials are fully educated on the rule. This includes calibration on hundreds of plays both in person and through our Referee Engagement & Performance System (REPS) to align on how to properly adjudicate transition take fouls. 

What are the biggest changes happening in your part of the sports sector?

The biggest change in the officiating sector continues to be how technology and innovation can enhance performance, communication and accuracy among the different sports. In the NBA specifically, where decisions need to be made instantaneously with some of the best athletes in the world, we are constantly exploring new technological solutions that can further aid and enhance decision-making for officials on the floor.

What the best piece of advice you’ve been given about working in sports / sports technology (personal or professional)?

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given about working in sports is to always raise your hand to help or learn something new. That is to say, by being open to saying yes to something, you never know where it is going to lead you or what opportunities may arise! 

What the best piece of advice you’d pass on to a client or start-up in your world?

One piece of advice I’d pass on to a client or start-up is to seek to understand rather than be understood. You may think that your solution is exactly what someone is looking for, but without understanding their challenges and pain points you may be missing out on the right approach to help solve their problem! 

To join the NBA as a Sport Technology Awards winner, enter The 2023 Awards 𝑵𝑶𝑾. For more details and to view the full list of categories please visit

Post-Podium Stories – European Tour Group

Six months on from The 2022 Sport Technology Awards we have revisited our winners to hear their thoughts on the latest market dynamics.

The second to feature in our ‘Post-Podium Stories’ is European Tour Group, winners of the Governing Body of the Year category, with Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer.

The European Tour group is driving innovation in golf through the creation of award-winning content, pioneering tournament formats and the use of the latest technology to boost fan engagement. 2021 was culmination of a four-year programme to radically overhaul the organizations entire IT infrastructure resulting in the organization being recognised as a technology visionary.

What has changed for your business in the last six months?

There have been several developments in the technology space.We ran a complete Broadcast Remote Production at the Cazoo Open de France in September – operating the main TV production facility at the IMG Studios in Stockley Park. We also launched our inaugural Virtual Twin at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, an on-course first for golf spectators. We essentially used gaming technology to create a digital twin of real-time golf action across the course, ensuring that spectators could always see the action on key holes.

We continue to develop our smart venue deployment strategy and we are currently working on a high-tech facility for the Ryder Cup in Rome next year.

We also launched a ground-breaking Players Portal – a unique self-management and knowledge tool for our players that allows us to be paperless and provides a one stop shop for all their needs.

The Tour also announced its commitment to halve our carbon emissions by 2030 and be net zero carbon by 2040. Technology is going to be vital to achieving this, so my team continues to work with our Head of Sustainability to find ways to be contactless, paperless, and remote where we can. With COP27 this month, this important subject continues to be front and centre and we’re determined to do our bit.

What are the biggest changes happening in your part of the sports sector?

Although the significant digital transformation we’ve undertaken through the past five years has created greater agility and accessibility in our global operations, which successfully saw us through the challenges of the pandemic, right now we are facing renewed operational challenges from global IT supply shortages, skill shortages and price inflation. We continue to develop an operating framework and technical solutions that are robust and rugged to withstand these challenges and will continue to place us at the forefront of technology advancement in sport.

We are also looking forward to embracing emerging technologies including the Metaverse, NFTs, LEOs and 5G. For example, we are about to launch our first ever Metaverse gaming product to fans which is hugely exciting.

What the best piece of advice you’ve been given about working in sports / sports technology (personal or professional)?

Pathways into sport don’t necessarily follow a conventional route – I started in the development of head-up display systems for military aircraft! There are credible pathways from education, corporates and a military environment to get into this industry. I’m a big believer that valuable skills can come from a wide range of places and diversity of thought is important if you want to remain innovative, We have launched a new programme – Golf Futures – which is all about educating people from underrepresented groups in society on the opportunities a career in golf and sport can bring. A mantra that has stayed with me is to have the vison of where you want to get to, and then find the pathway.

What the best piece of advice you’d pass on to a client or start-up in your world?

Remember, technology alone is not the solution – processes and people are vital in turning the technology into a purposeful and successful solution.

The Sports Technology Annual Review and Power List – Out Next Week

Next week sees the launch of the third edition of The Sports Technology Annual Review, created in association with The English Institute of Sport. 

The Review gives those with a professional stake in the sector – both in athletic and business performance – a practical view of the key aspects shaping the landscape.

In a short time, The Review has garnered industry respect as an authoritative resource, achieving thousands of downloads each year. It is now viewed as required reading for industry commentators and senior figures across the sports sector.  

The 2022 Review will be equally informative, valuable and well-received. 

Trading Through a Triple-Whammy 

The past year has delivered a triple whammy in the form of economic challenges, energy restrictions and an unstable supply chain but, despite this, many of the predictions made by our authors in The 2021 Review have proved unfailingly accurate. 

At the time of publication last year, predictions for the global sports technology market value were around US$8 billion; the actual valuation proved to be US$17.9 billion, demonstrating tech-led innovation’s power within the wider sports market.  

When compiling The Review, it was exciting to realize just how far sports has come in the past 12 months and whilst the post-pandemic era is throwing up more external challenges that could have been predicted, the sector remains as exciting and dynamic as ever. 

Power List Voting Changes 

An eagerly-anticipated segment of The Review is The Power List – an annual assessment of the brands and organizations which are taking the most tech-forward approach to innovation in modern sport.  

Since initial publication in 2020, the method of compilation has evolved and this year hundreds of industry leaders were invited to cast their votes as to which brands should make the list and where they should rank.  

The results might surprise a few people, and there might be a few brands which feel their rank is not commensurate with their true standing. To this we would counter that every judge was given an even-handed summary of each organization in contention for a Power List place.  

With Thanks to Our Partners 

As well as the EIS, we are excited to have partnered with some of the most knowledgeable brands in international sports for selected chapters.  As experts in their respective fields, the intelligence shared by Capgemini, Engage Digital Partners, HOK, Sportradar and The Sustainability Report has been invaluable.  

An Exciting New Format 

As in everything The STA Group does, we strive to offer insight, not just data. To that end we believe we have added even more value this year by publishing via RELAYTO. This has transformed what was a static document into an engaging and interactive experience.  

The Review contains embedded videos and live links to sources and resources, all of which provide more intelligence, more easily as well as a greatly enhanced UX overall.  

The 2022 Sports Technology Annual Review and Power List will be an accessible, authoritative and valuable tool on which you can draw for future planning and strategic decision making. It will leave you better informed and potentially more inspired. 

Follow The STA Group here to ensure you are among the first to see The Sports Technology Annual Review

Post-Podium Stories – WSC Sports

Six months on from The 2022 Sport Technology Awards we revisited a selection of our winners to hear their thoughts on the latest market dynamics.

The first of our ‘Post-Podium Stories’ features WSC Sports, winners of the Best Technology for Communications and Storytelling category in collaboration with DAZN, with VP Growth, Vadim Drozdovski.

WSC Sports’ solution utilizes advanced AI and machine learning to analyse live sports broadcasts and create and publish customized short-form videos in real-time. Leading OTT provider, DAZN, leverages this technology to engage with football fans, driving traffic to its content and platforms.

What has changed for your business in the last six months?
In the past six months WSC Sports has signed a host of new clients all across the world such as College Sports Conferences in the USA, OTT platforms and broadcasters, and the largest football leagues in Europe, including Serie A and La Liga – all are now utilizing our AI highlights technology. We’ve grown exponentially too in terms of headcount and now have more than 350 employees at our offices in Tel Aviv, London, New York, Sydney, China & Japan – by the way we’re still recruiting!

What are the biggest changes happening in your part of the sports sector?
Sports consumption habits are rapidly changing all the time, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Fans now expect more match content than ever before, they want it easily discoverable and accessible across more devices and platforms, and they want it instantly available. Meeting this demand, while adding revolutionary fan experiences and successfully monetizing their content is the biggest challenge for rights holders – this is where WSC Sports comes in. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given about working in sports / sports technology (personal or professional)?
Sometimes when you’re flat out working in a field that you love, which crosses over with your favourite pastime and it’s hard to separate yourself from work and actually being a sports fan. Be grateful that you get to work in a field that you love, but don’t forget to enjoy it!

What is the best piece of advice you’d pass on to a client or start-up in your world?
Remember the fans. At the end of the day, we pretty much all serve them, so ultimately, if what you’re doing or developing is keeping them happy then you’re on the right path and don’t lose sight. Find a way to excite the fans and everyone else will want to work with you. 

How AI Can Democratise Sports

Sports have been practiced and celebrated globally for millennia by people of all walks of life, but few athletes ever get the spotlight. Most athletes have little chance of gaining any visibility or recognition for their physical achievements, no matter how awe inspiring. But automation technology is now gradually changing that reality, capturing sports activity wherever it may be, and offering every player a place in the limelight.

Early sports primarily focused on war preparation. Over time, rock-, spear-, and stake throwing gradually made way for group activities involving a ball, including both men and women. And as ancient historical sources indicate, sport wasn’t just an exclusive activity for the strongest male athletes, but rather a fun pastime that anyone could engage in.

So, what happened? How come our world doesn’t celebrate all sports, and all athletes? Specific sports and players have traditionally commanded mass public attention. A century ago, the most popular sports were baseball, horse racing, boxing, and cycling. Back then, the NFL and NBA, which presently command TV ratings, did not even exist.

Societal change, guided by technological progress, a shift in public tastes, and new trends in media led to a change in the focus on sports as well. Cycling faded as a U.S. spectator sport as many people switched to cars for transportation and that in turn boosted the popularity of auto racing instead. The NFL’s popularity grew as TVs made it into practically every American home, where tens of millions saw how well the sport fit the new medium. And eventually media trends also had their influence. To engage a younger viewership, ESPN created the X Games, which both fed and created an appetite for more individualistic and so-called extreme sports. 

Individuality and visibility are what lead our society today, and that trend is both enabled and supported by technology, media and public focus. Social networks gave individuals worldwide a platform through which to share themselves with the world, leading to the democratisation of media presence, albeit via the Internet. New AI-based camera systems are now doing the same for sports and players globally as well.

Using this new technology, “people have the power” to democratize sports, affording visibility to more athletes, competing in a greater variety of sports, across a larger audience globally. Small colleges and high schools can use AI-powered automated cameras to stream and share their sports team’s events with far-flung audiences, including family members and talent scouts.

When it comes to systematized and automated exposure of niche, grassroots, and school sports – and, importantly, the athletes who compete at that level – Pixellot leads a revolution. Strategically located in the void below professional and popular sports production where more than 200 million sports events worldwide gain little to no exposure, Pixellot offers an alternative. The company’s camera systems are currently installed at more than 25,000 courts and fields across the world and offer athletic programs valuable access to automated game production and highlights, for training and commercial purposes

In the US alone, Pixellot enables live viewership of more than 100,000 games per month and has produced more than 2 million games, spanning the “Big Four” North American sports – football, basketball, baseball, and hockey – as well as soccer, softball, lacrosse, volleyball, and more.

Most notably, AI technology powers a virtuous cycle, encouraging audiences to want to see more grassroots sports events and a wider array of athletes. By providing an unprecedented number of streamed sports events, automation generates increased demand and creates opportunities for athletes to appear on screen before families, communities, and scouts at the next level.

Technology has a direct impact on the popularization of a wider variety of sports and plays an active role in democratising the sports world in general.

Yossi Tarablus, Associate Vice President Global Marketing, Pixellot

Founded in 2013, Pixellot is the world’s largest producer of live sports content. Today Pixellot’s AI-Automated technology solutions streamline production workflow by fully automating live sports capture, distribution, analysis, and monetization of over 150,000 games per month from +70 countries across the globe.

The Value of Digital Transformation in Sport

Sport is an industry unlike any other, a fact that is both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it is an industry fuelled by passion, from the deep and almost unconditional love that a fan holds for their favourite sport or team. Any other industry would long for that kind of emotional engagement.

On the other hand, passion is something we cannot depend on. Sport has long relied on fans passing their affections from one generation to the next, and times are changing. With a world of digital entertainment options now available to global audiences, sport must compete like never before to earn its place in the hearts and minds of today’s consumer.

This requires sports organisations to build an understanding of digital engagement techniques, driven by data, to avoid being left behind. This is the premise of digital transformation, a term that has become hugely popular in recent years but one I still think is confused.

True digital transformation is not about adopting new technology. It’s about systemic and cultural changes that are focused on extracting value over the long-term for the benefit of an organisation, its fans and its network of commercial partners.

Be fan-obsessed

To begin with, it is important to understand that fans, not technology departments, are key to success. We must avoid assumptions regarding what content to show, what platforms to create or which demographics to target. Sports fans are diverse, they are full of surprises and should always be given the chance to express their preferences.

By investing the time and resource into tracking individual fan preferences and analysing the data they share, organisations gain the intelligence that helps create worthwhile digital experiences. As we enter the world of web3, demand for these experiences will only increase, which means every part of an organisation, from the venues it operates to individual back-office processes, should be optimised for digital consumption and data generation.

There are three key areas where organisations can begin building this data-driven approach.

  1. Direct fan relationships

Online streaming, mobile gaming and social media is defining how fans consume, purchase and interact; it is now an expectation that digital experiences are widely available.

Modern fan engagement should therefore be shaped around platforms that enable these constant, multi-channel connections, enabling single sign-on authentication and gathering first party data.

Whatever platforms you are using, more value can be extracted by analysing its data and comparing it to other parts of your ecosystem.

Using business analytics, you can build a complete picture of how fan communities are behaving, leading to better monetisation. Last season, we saw data-driven fan campaigns deliver up to 700% ROI for sports properties and deliver millions in direct sales.

  1. Digital competition management

After years of relying on manual tasks, new digital tools can drastically cut the time needed to achieve objectives while bringing in a wider range of stakeholders than was previously possible.

With new digital tools comes data, which if analysed correctly can shed new light on how different processes are performing, opening the door to major new savings or future innovations.

  1. Enhancing the value of content

This practice of generating data from all areas of the competition creates opportunities to apply new information to the content itself, helping to maximise its value.

Spectacular amounts of real-time data can be captured from live matches, which can then be shared with relevant stakeholders to speed up decision making and improve analysis, be it for coaching or wider business strategy. Meanwhile for broadcast content, the ability to incorporate new data can enhance storytelling and drive a new level of engagement with viewing audiences.

A data-driven future

With a data-driven approach like this, the value of technology comes to life, opening the door to major new savings, future innovations and of course, investment.

Whether you are running a single digital platform or a whole suite of services, it is essential that they can be connected to a single data-based ecosystem, allowing information about fans, competitions and content to be centralised. This is a process that can often require specialist guidance and ongoing support, but it is the step that will keep sporting organisations on the right track.

The story of sports technology is just getting started, so it is important that we lay the foundations right and seek the right support where needed. By creating systems and cultures that can incorporate new products and extract information over time, we will deliver the value required to maintain the passion of fans and deliver previously unimaginable returns.

Tom Woods leads Marketing and Communications at LaLiga Tech, the technology division of Spanish football’s premier division that is leading the digital transformation of sports and entertainment with a range of unique, modular technologies offered under a single data-based ecosystem.